Recent research into character reversals in writings produced by occidental children has shown that they mainly reverse the left-oriented digits (1, 2, 3, 7, and 9) and therefore appear to apply a right-orienting rule. But do they produce similar reversal errors when asked to recognize the digits? In an experiment, based on eye-tracking observations of 50 children (Mage
= 5.4 years), children had to point towards a target digit in a 2 × 2 matrix also containing three distractor digits, one of which was the mirror-reversed writing of the correctly written target digit. This recognition task led to a true “battle” in children’s memory between the two writings of the target digit. This battle is shown in the graphical abstract that represents a heat map from a sub-sample of children (on the left side) and the fixation points map from an individual child (on the right side). Rather than following the predicted right-orienting rule, the children’s responses appeared to be biased towards digits in the right-hand column of the 2 × 2 matrices (when the reversed target digit was not in the same column as the correctly written target digit). As a whole, these findings support the hypotheses that many 4- to 6-year-old’s representations of the digit writings are unoriented in their memory and that these children may adopt different solutions to overcome this lack of orientation depending on whether they write or read.
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